Dear Js,

Mama and I had our first adult night out in a few years. Abu covered for us. Mama said, “I feel like a teenager, just that instead of sneaking away from my parents I’m sneaking away from my children XD. Oh goodness, after over a year since the last time we went dancing my whole body is aching! Lots of fun were had. Now for the kids….”

Abu asked us the next day if we danced a lot. I said yes. “Did she dance like a crazy woman?” I laughed. She said, “I know.” Then I talked about how Jardy and I are launching his new biz this week. I said, you know, I didn’t know how to dance before I met him. She said REALLY? I explained that it’s how we met. If I hadn’t learned to dance, I wouldn’t have gone to the electronic music party that same night mama was there. Our paths would never have crossed, and you two would never exist.

Later, that inspired Abu to tell mama about how she met her father. It was in college. She said some days you just remember exactly where you were, what you were wearing and what you were doing. He zipped by while she was waiting out side class. She wondered, “Who was that man?” He was tall and thin and had long hair. He wore skinny jeans, because that was the fashion back then too. Abu wore a short dress she made. She made her own clothes. They had signed up for the same class. One of the assignments was to listen to a recording. She cursed, “Of all the booths, I had to sit at the one with the broken recorder.” Abu Jose came around the divider and asked, “What seems to be the problem here?” in his deep voice, thick brows and focused gaze. They don’t live together anymore, but she smiled as she remembered and said…

When a rock is aimed at you, no umbrella can protect you.

That is the direct translation of a saying in Spanish. She also told about the time mama sent her a picture of us hiking. She told mama’s sister, “There’s something going on between the two of them.” Sister said no, I don’t see it. 4 months later, mama broke the news, sister went, “HOW DO YOU ALWAYS KNOW?” Abu declared smugly, “That’s what I do…”

Abu was nice to cover for us while we were away. But it was rough. They started the fireworks at the theme park again, so less than 30 minutes after we left, Kimi started barking again. It woke j up. Abu said, “Don’t be surprised if you get a few hundred doller water bill this month.” Abu gave you a bubble bath. You like playing in the tub. You played til you passed out. Then J, you came out and said, “Where’s mama?” “She’s out.” “But what if j wakes up?” “Then I will need your help.”

We're getting too old for this. Staying out late just means we sleep less, because you wake up the same time every day

We’re getting too old for this. Staying out late just means we sleep less, because you wake up the same time every day

I’m reading Walt Disney’s biography: “An American Original.” He was a persistent hustler. He brought feature-length animations to the world, even as conmen and wolves gutted him early in his career. He built Disney and kept hiring through the depression and kept going through WW2.

A tale involves Disney reading a book about air warfare. He was convinced it would tip the war in their favor. So he rushed this propaganda movie right after Bambi:

The Navy tried to squash the film, because they had committed to a battleship program. It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when people thought airplanes were just a novelty rather than an effective vehicle. Nothing happened til ad legend Albert Lasker picked it up, persuaded Churchill, who in turn got FDR to watch it. It is said the film influenced FDR to beef up air support for D-Day. It lost Disney lots of money, but it was something he believed in. And how badass is that? Mickey Mouse Disney turning the tides of war with a cartoon. Don’t underestimate the power of information disguised as entertainment.

And then I am at the part where his workers unionized and turned against him. They spat on him as he drove in to work, as if he ought to feel guilty that he made more money than they did. Aristotle said…

“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”

Disney and his brother built the empire from nothing… when Walt had to beg Roy’s wife for money to keep the company afloat. When they had no money to eat and the restaurant owner downstairs pitied them enough to feed them. They built an animation industry when the world laughed at them and said it couldn’t work. And they sold fantasies — invisible things you make with your mind that other people need to believe in to buy. And best of all? He did all of it ethically. I’m sorry. No. What’s fair in this world is what you earn for yourself. Not what you steal from others.

One thing I enjoyed learning about Disney was his tenacity. He failed more times than he succeeded. Mr Honda said it best, “Success represents the 1% of your work which results from the 99% that is called failure.” You have to pay your dues long enough before it all comes together. And when it comes together, you will find that your success is built upon your failures — the experiences you learned from them, and the opportunities that opened up just because you did something.

For example…

Fatal 10-car pileup on 17. Traffic locked for 10 hours. Mama received a call from the head LC at the hospital, “Could you come and lead our breastfeeding group today?” Normally, they don’t invite non-nurses into the hospital. But mama became friends with the head nurse LC, and now she had the authority of being the LC for the pediatrician’s office right across the street. Mama called me at work and I said, “You have to say yes.” If they let her in there once, the chances are good they’ll let her in again in the future. There were 12 moms there. Abu helped keep j company. They didn’t know she spoke English, so she overheard them saying how impressed they were, compared to the regular LC.

I offered to pick you up from school. I peeked at the backyard behind the glass and you saw me. You dropped your hula hoop and you ran down the hill shouting, “DADDY DADDY DADDY DADDY!” Then you hugged me and didn’t want to let go through the whole of storytime. You also showed me how to roll the hula hoop down the hill.

On the way back, we talked about why you don’t sit in my car anymore and why I don’t take you to school anymore. I asked, “Would you like too go back to Starfish?” I know you didn’t like it there, but I wanted to try again to see if you would reveal why. You said, “I want to go just ONE more time.” Then you took it back, “NO. ZERO times.”

School nightmare. That night, we heard you scream, “NO!” in your sleep. Mama ran and heard you say, “I want to go home!” Oh no. We hoped you weren’t talking about your new school. That’s our best option. If you didn’t like it we were f*cked.

“… I don’t want to stay at Starfish!” Mama consoled, “It’s okay, you’re at home. You are staying home on Mon, Wed, Fri and you go to Bing on Tues, Thurs” You relaxed, double-sighed and drifted back to sleep.

You’re starting to talk more about your new school. You can name a few friends. You tell us what you play with, like pulling cars or rolling hula hoops. This evening, you pulled the picture of your new teachers off the fridge and asked me to read you their names. You smiled and kept staring at it, all through potty time and til bedtime. I think you like it there.

My bionic family. Remember how my dad almost died in his sleep? Well he finally decided to stop complaining about feeling silly and got a machine to wear in his sleep.

He woke up fresh and felt like a kid again

He woke up fresh and felt like a kid again

Then my brother sent us this picture…

For some reason, he thought it was fun to get tested too

For some reason, he thought it was fun to get tested too

“I WANT TO TALK! *SCREEAAAAM* LISTEN TO ME! *SCREAAAAAM* UNDERSTAND ME!”

j, that’s what you’re like now. You scream a lot. We think it’s because you know all the words but your vocal cords not developed yet. You understand everything we say. Mama says in English and Spanish, “Go find me a book”. You do it. “Go find Abu.” You do it. “Pick it up from the floor.” You scream at me and point at J’s bed. I say, “Go ahead, you can climb inside.” You climb inside. The only thing you don’t say is Yes. Your favorite word is nonononono as you waddle away and shake your head.

You also LOVE to do this and it kills everyone. You crinkle your nose and go SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF

You also LOVE to do this and it kills everyone. You crinkle your nose and go SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF

Electra complex. You know what they say about boys loving their moms? The Oedipus Complex. Apparently there’s a thing for daughters and their dads too — Electra Complex. j, I can’t go anywhere without you screaming at me and raising your hands above your head. You say, “Ahpu! Ahpu!” I say “Carry? Up?” You will scream if I don’t carry you.. It’s gotten harder to walk Kimi in the morning, because you point at the door and say, “GO! GO!” You want to come with me. One day I had you squirming in one arm, with your brother skipping around me and Kimi trying to wrap the leash around everyone. And remember at some point I have to pick up her poo.

Crazy convos…

J: “After Sun dies it will become A white dwarf and disappear into black hole”
You thought for a while…
J: “I don’t like black holes. When it becomes a black hole I will stay at home.”

Reading…
Me: “W-A-L-K… Walk”
J: “But there is an L in there”

Me: “Is this one S-P-I-C-Y? “
J: “I don’t want spicy”
Mama and I looked at each other. Well, there goes our secret language.

At bedtime, after visiting the park by the lake…
J: “I want mama. I want to be close to mama all the time.”
J: “I want to ride the boat someday”
Me: “You can dream about it. You can dream about anything that makes you happy. Let’s dream about the boat. We’re holding hands, we’re going into the boat, we sit down and the sail is up.”
J: “I’m pretending our house is a boat and the roof us a sail.”
J: “I’m pretending I’m sleeping with mama in her room… zzzzz”
Later…
Abu to mama: “You know how hard it is to get adults to do visualization exercises like that? And this pea of a boy gets it like that.”

You and your brother have been acting more like brother and sister lately. It’s interesting to see it change. For a while, it has just been hostile. Don’t take my toys, don’t take my mama, etc. But these mornings, I wake up to hear j go, “Dada dada dada.” Then J says, “NO, daddy is sleeping. DON’T wake daddy up!”

Vente Vente

Then your brother goes Vente j, Vente! And he leads you off the bed and out of the room. And down the stairs.

The day after Abu left, j turned right to Abu’s room and said, “A-bu.” And J said, “Abu’s gone.”

This week in pictures…

Zoom – READY SET GO! We went to the far park with what you call “mountains”. We haven’t been here since you got your bike.

Round and round

After riding and playing, I sat on a log. You said, “I want to sit next to you.” We sat and talked about many things. Like… Trees … Why animals come out at night … How animals live everywhere … in the trees, the bushes. How if you listen, you can hear the birds in their homes. I said maybe we should come here for a picnic one day. What’s a picnic? My shoes are dirty. Why is the grass like a brush? I’m going to clean my shoes again. How are these logs standing up? Why are these logs laying down? Why are these leaves green? We saw a couple setting up a table. We talked about what they could be doing. You saved a pine cone and some brown needles from the pine tree.

The couple that was setting up the table put out a tub of ice cream. They scooped into a few dozen cups. Then a Church school bus came and 50 kids ran to get their ice cream. But ice cream was just for all the kids in the bus. We were sitting there, 100 feet away. They walked by us to throw away trash, and it never occurred to them to offer this kid any. That’s Christianity for you. If you believe in Jesus with us, you go to Heaven. Don’t believe in Jesus, to Hell with you.

NOW I’m starting to change into numbers

New adventures

New adventures

FLYING bugsy

Curiodyssey

j being j

j necklace

Mama, in a text message: “The good news is you can stop worrying about a vasectomy now”
Me: “WHAT?”
She was seeing more blood than usual so she saw her gyno. Gyno said, “I hope you’re not planning to have more kids.” It turns out she had some fibrous thing. No big deal, but somehow related to hormones and it was making her lose quite a bit of blood. That’s why she had been more tired than usual. But the fix is to get on birth control pills for some hormones.

Self service milk. Mama has been waking up to find that j, you have pulled out her boob and are drinking it all by yourself.

Caterpillar wrestling

Plane Puzzle – you figured it out by yourself

Playing the piano. You weren’t just banging keys, you were experimenting. The following week, mama called me all excited. She said you played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by following the colors on the keys and on the sheet.

Abu advised us to stay back more and helicopter less so you will explore and socialize more on your own

Abu advised us to stay back more and helicopter less so you will explore and socialize more on your own

For a while, you were making single column towers that kept falling over and making you mad. You made this castle after you figured out how to make a wider base

For a while, you were making single column towers that kept falling over and making you mad. You made this castle after you figured out how to make a wider base

Silent screams. j, you hurt your brother twice last week. First time was in the car. Mama gave you a strawberry Pocky stick. You love those things. Mama strapped you into your chair and you held it in your hand, just waiting to savor it. j was next to be strapped in. She saw your stick. She grabbed it so fast and ate it before you knew what happened. You looked at your hand and then at her. Then you closed your eyes and opened your mouth. When you get upset, you cry like you’re screaming. But sometimes you get so upset you can’t even scream. At least for a few seconds, and then comes the volcano. And we have to make sure you don’t hurt your sister.

Ow my toe. The second time was when J pushed you off the activity cube. You tried to climb back on but he elbowed you. You struck like a cobra. Again, J went into silent scream. You bit his toe. Abu’s jaw fell. She said, “She bit his toe.” Mama said, “I know…”

In other sad news, Abu has gone home. You were happy all the way to the airport. You sang Beatles songs Abu taught you, and this Monkees one over and over and over again. You did everything you could to make Abu laugh. j started singing along too, doing backing vocals, “ooooo…. ooooo… oooo…” Then Abu burst into a laugh I had never heard before. The kind where you know someone is happy but emotional so it sounds like she’s trying not to cry at the same time. Mama asked her what happened. She said she was trying to put on her makeup but j kept copying her. We had talked about Abu leaving for a few days now. But when we said goodbye, J, you said you wanted to come out. You wanted to go with Abu. You wanted to see her off. Thankfully a monorail passed above; it distracted you. I could tell you were feeling feelings, but you didn’t understand what they were. You have never missed someone before. Everyone you loved always came back. I said, “Do you have big feelings? I will miss Abu too.” I saw that your eyes were a little wet. On the car ride back from the airport, you flip flopped between chatty and sad. You said, “I really want the whole family to stay in the same house together.” And, “I really want Abu here right now.” And then you fell asleep next to your sleeping sister.

On the last weekend Abu was here, mama and I went out for the last time. We went to a Korean place that served flavored soju and late night snacks. We had yogurt soju and strawberry soju. And also a dish of Hamachi Kama (Yellowtail Collar). In my drunken delight I revealed some of my secret (non- PG-13) projects to mama. I said it started as an experiment. But I now have 100,000 followers on one site, and 80,000 on another. She said, “WHAT!” and begged me to tell her what they were. I said I’m not telling, and don’t guess. Yes, I think it’s ridiculous too. We all know sex sells, but for the most part, sex traffic is not worth the price. It consumes high bandwidth but returns are low because visitors are distracted and one-handed. That’s why most hosts and platforms (except this one I noticed) reject sex. But I thought it was a challenge. My biggest question was, can this traffic be valuable? I wanted to find out. So I sprinkled some Amazon affiliate links. Since then, I’ve moved a few thousand dollars worth of product. With this, I knew they were reading, they were clicking, and they were buying. But this makes sense. Even though they’re in a compromised state of mind, they’ll snap out of it eventually. Everyone thinks of sex, even people who are smart and have money. The challenge is just whether or not you can skim the gold from the trash. I’ve gotten commissions on various things from Plasma TVs to garbage cans to video cards to decorative pillows. Amazon is omnipresent and omniselling enough to be good at converting people. I said, “Yea, but it’s silly money, the commissions are low.” Mama said, “I don’t care about the money!” She wanted in on it. I said, “You know, sometimes I get questions from people. For some reason they think I’m an expert. Maybe I’ll forward them to you.” She said, “Okay!” Then I said, “By the way, I also tried setting up email capture forms. I thought no way anyone will give me their emails.” But they did. It’s still so ridiculous how this has unfolded. But now I pretty much know that there are buyers hidden in this list. Do I really want to get into this market and create info products for it? Because my profit is 6% now selling someone else’s product. I could get more than 50% selling my own. It makes me a little sick sometimes to think about it. I think for now I’m just going to put this one on ice for a while. See where it runs its course. It’s just funny. My brain is so screwed up now that I can’t even think of sex without accidentally making money from it.

This week, NASA said we’ll find aliens in 10 years. The new telescopes we’re building and shooting into space will allow scientists to discover new planets much faster than before. This is one of those things where you’ll get a kick from more than me. Because you will be reading this in the future. This is all speculation in the present, but in the future, you can look back and either laugh at the silly claims, or go WOW we were right.

Mama and I started watching a documentary about Hayao Miyazaki called Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. We stopped halfway because mama fell asleep. The thing that amazed me most was how Miyazaki produces a whole animated film (storyboard & key frames) by himself, in his head, and edits it for timing with no computers. He just closes his eyes, waves in the air and clicks a stopwatch. It was also insightful to see how he makes art. It flows through him effortlessly onto paper… so freely that he can do it while chatting with his assistant. And to a point where he admits he has no idea where or how the story will end as he’s drawing it. To me, that’s the highest level of mastery as an artist — there is no blockage between his unconscious/thoughts/emotions and the paper. It just flows.

Love,

Dad

P.S. For Abu’s last cheat day, we took her to our favorite Indian restaurant. j you fell asleep, so I waited in the car with you. I felt like Ebeneezer Scrooge with a Ghost of Christmas looking through the glass. J, you were laughing and standing on the chair. You were playing with mama while waiting for our order. I pretended I wasn’t there. For a split second I was jealous of that happy family. Then I remembered that it was my family.

P.P.S. – everything we learned about archery from the movies is wrong:

P.P.P.S. It’s summer now so it can get warm at night. We put a fan in your room. What I like about it is it helps you sleep faster. WHRRRrrrrrrrrrr…

P.P.P.P.S. Abu said that cognitively, you’re a 6 year old trapped in a 3 year old’s body. She gave us a list of things to work on with you. One of them is reading.